by M.J. Pennington
Con Photographer, and Reporter
First year in a new venue! A-kon was huge and busy and FUN! If you live in Dallas, or dont mind the trip. You should definately make plans for this con next year.
Registration is boring and long at any con unless you come on Monday and stalk the area where the registration will be happening. Me and my group, there were 3 adults and 1 child, thought if we got there on Saturday, around 2, that we would be good. One of the adults pre-registered and the rest went into the on-site registration. The one who went into the pre-reg line finished and was enjoying the con experience within an hour and a half while us, who were in the on-site line, took a bit longer (almost 5 hours). The staff was awesome and had water set up everywhere for those who got hot and believe me, there were times it was really hot. The people in the line were really nice and fun to visit with. They didn't mind the kid when he got bored and started talking to them and tried to get them to play with him. A major down side, minus the heat, were the inconsiderate con goers who walked passed and were laughing at the ones waiting paitently to get their badges. There were some awesome and amazing con goers who were real sweet to the people in line. Two guys dressed as the mario brothers went up and down the line entertaining the people, and not to mention others who would either stop and let the people in line take pictures and those who stopped to visit with some, who were by themselves. A word of advice: preregister. And if you can get there when they open registration on, in this weekend's case, Thursday, it will help. You might still have to wait, but the majority of the stuff at cons happen on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So you shouldn't miss anything if you do this.
Hotel and Parking
This A-kon was at the beautiful Hilton Anatole Hotel. There were rooms for con goers, even though my group didnt stay in them, I heard they were very nice. We stayed at the Best Western that was next door, which was really nice and the beds were cozy and the breakfast was yummy. They were having issues with their internet so I wasnt able to do much with my computer during the one to two breaks I took for myself and the kid during the con. If you stayed at the hotel that the con was at, you didn't have to worry about the $17 parking fee. We didn't have to worry about it, because we parked at our hotel and the car just sat there and looked pretty the whole weekend. Besides, walking is good excercise, and you'll be doing it at the con as well, so why not?
Panels & Events
There were so many panels and so many events. They had them inside and there were some going on outside in the little park area they had at the hotel, which was beautiful and the weather might have been warm, but it wasn't too warm for congoers to go out and enjoy themselves. I only attened/help out at two panels. The majority of my time was spent taking pictures and wating in the line for autographs. I did hear some people complain, but it was mainly about how they weren't able to get into a panel they wanted because it filled up too fast, or how they thought the panel was too short.
There were dances, and concerts that, from what I heard, were awesome. There were autograph sessions all weekend. On Saturday, me, the kid, and another in our group, stood in the Vic Mignogna line after we were done with one of the panels. We waited and waited but Vic had to leave because he had been there for a while signing (the staff told he had signed over 700 autographs that day!). The staff that worked in that area came and handed us and 70 something others cards that we used on Sunday to get our autographs and pictures with Vic. We got the other voice actors, minus Todd Haberkorn. He had a thing he had to go to but that's alright; there is always next time.
There are so many talented artists and a lot of them were in the artist alley. I met a couple that I follow on facebook and read their online comic. The kid liked all the different styles that he saw and the different crafts that people made. There was a woman knitting that caught his attention he asked her questions and she was real sweet and answered. There were some other interesting booths. One had some guys who had a little 15 minute movie that they were trying to get to be made into a series. It had a steampunk feel to it and I couldn't pull away from it. I would have watched the full 15 minutes if the kid hadn't pulled me away to chase down a pokemon.
The dealer's room, in one word, was: HUGE. So much stuff to look at and buy! There were games, shirts, comics, swords, dvds, and so much more I would probably be here for hours listing what I saw. The people who worked at the booths were all so nice. My favorite sales pitch was from a gentleman, who saw me, my roommate, and the kid in our Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles cosplay, that said "I know what you need! You need chess pieces of yourselves!" That stopped us and he showed us these awesome chess pieces that had Tsubasa and XXX-Holic characters on them. They were cool and if I had had money I would have bought them.
I know that there are people who dont like con staff for reasons that are their own but I, personally, loved the staff. They were smiling and helpful and if I had the money I would have bought them all a box of pocky. My absolute favorite staff members where the ones who worked in the autograph area. They did an awesome job wrangling the fans and they had two people ready to take your camera and take a picture if you didn't have anyone to do it for you, or if you wanted your family and friends with you in a picture.
I love the staff of this con on so many levels. As a mom, I felt like I could relax and have fun and let my kid , this was his first A-Kon, have fun.
A couple things happened to me this weekend that I wont forget. One of them was that we got to meet some talented cosplayers from the Jelly Hetalia Productions (https://www.facebook.com/JellyHetaliaProductions). I met their member Mama Austria a couple times during the weekend. It was weird because the convention was huge and on all three days I ran into her several times. I kinda felt like a derp because I didn't realize who she was until we exchanged our real names on Sunday.
I met the most adorable little Bubbles (Powerpuff Girls) on Saturday. She was in character and full of energy! After I took a couple of pictures, I pointed at her dad and asked "Who is that?" and she gave the the funniest look and said " The professor." I couldnt help but laugh. After a couple more pictures, I asked what her real name was and shestarted thinking, then her dad said: "What does daddy call you?" and without hesitation she said "Sweetie." She was adorable! I am so happy I met her and was blessed to take some pictures of her.
The looks on the con goers faces when they saw me, my roommate, and the kid in our Tsubasa Resivoir Chronicles cosplays. We got asked for so many pictures and the people who asked were so happy, it made me happy because I know how it feels to see someone dressed as your favorite character from your favorite show/manga. I got asked if I was magneto once, which I honestly didn't expect.
Meeting the wonderful Voice Actors. I met some of them already and seeing them again was loads of fun for me and the kid. He got an autograph, hug, and picture with Vic. He got a silver autograph from Kyle Herbert to go with his others. He watched Sonny Strait draw Krillan before signing it. When we met Cathy Weseluck, she talked in Spike's (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) voice as she signed the kid's autograph book and the kid was just awestruck with her. When we got to Lisle Wilkerson he went over to get a picture with her and she posed like she was going to give him a kiss on the cheek. All the voice actors were awesome. I cant wait to see them all again in the future.
Another story I want to mention is about a Deadpool cosplayer we met. There were all sorts of Deadpool cosplayers, but my favorite one was the one who was accompanied by the fairy named Captain Tacos. We met them on Friday. We had a little fun and took some pictures. They were fun people. I wish I was able to meet them again before we left, but I couldn't find them.
This convention had a ton of photoshoots going on. The majority of them were in the park area, but there were some that were going on inside. I saw Hetalia, Vocaloid, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! , Marvel, Power Rangers, and many more photoshoots. Being a photographer, I wanted to be at all of them at once. So that I would have been able to take all the pictures, but alas I cannot be in more than one spot at a time.
This convention was so much fun! Definitely worth the 5 hour trip, the 4 plus hours in line waiting for my badge, and the hours in line waiting for autographs. I personally am planning on being at the next one unless something happens.